Police say the priest was fired at twice in the abdomen while he was closing the church and that a suspect has been arrested.

A Greek Orthodox priest was left with life-threatening gunshot wounds in the French city of Lyon.

Police said the priest, aged in his 40s, was fired at twice while he was closing a church at about 4pm.

Officers locked down the area and had told the public to stay away while the suspect was at large. Police later confirmed that an arrest had been made.

The alleged gunman was alone and fired from a hunting rifle, a police source said, while local media described seeing an injured man being stretchered from the church.

In a statement, a Lyon prosecutor said residents heard shots and screaming near the church, and when officers arrived they saw an individual running away and found the wounded priest by the back door of the building.

Antoine Callot, pastor at another Greek Orthodox church in Lyon, said he asked police for security protection at his church after the shooting.

“We are anxious and anguished. It’s really horrible,” he said. “Now we need to hide and be careful.”

🔴 #Lyon : la personne blessée par balles est bien le prêtre orthodoxe (confirmation source #police), touché de deux tirs dans une #église orthodoxe de la rue. Des militaires arrivent sur place @lyonmag pic.twitter.com/nVDB5Nf73m

In a tweet, the mayor of Lyon, Gregory Doucet said: “My first thoughts are with the very seriously injured victim. The motive is unknown, the suspect is on the run. An investigation is underway, let’s be careful.”

Meanwhile, the British Embassy in France posted an alert about the “ongoing security incident” in the Jean-Mace area of the city’s 7th arrondissement.

It comes two days after a woman was beheaded and two others killed by a man shouting “Allahu Akbar” in a church in Nice. The incident took place on the same day Muslims celebrate the Prophet Mohammad’s birthday.

In a separate attack, Paris schoolteacher Samuel Paty was beheaded by an 18-year-old Chechen two weeks ago after showing his students a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad.

France’s defence of the right to publish cartoons depicting the Prophet have angered many Muslims around the world and deepened tensions in the nation.

In response to the recent violence, President Emmanuel Macron sent thousands of soldiers to protect sites such as schools and places of worship.

He said French people can “count on the nation to allow them to practice their religion in full safety and freedom”.

But, despite this promise, there has been no obvious visible increase in police or military presence at many popular churches and mosques.

No one was guarding the Lyon church attacked today or the one attacked in Nice on Thursday.

© 2020 Sky UK

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News – Lyon gun attack: Arrest made after Greek Orthodox priest seriously injured